Record breaking cruise season kicks off with the return of Australia’s favourite cruise ship, Celebrity Solstice
The arrival of Australia’s highest rated cruise ship*, Celebrity Solstice to Sydney on Saturday 8 October signals the official start of a bumper international cruise season for Australia and New Zealand, as well as the biggest ever local season for RCL Cruises Ltd with a capacity increase of 15 per cent, year on year for the company’s trifecta of cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.
“This summer, our three cruise lines and seven ships based down under will sail 101 itineraries, carrying over 300,000 guests who will inject $208 million in passenger spend alone in Australian ports,” said Adam Armstrong, managing director for RCL Cruises in Australia and New Zealand.
With around 15 per cent of the international RCL Cruises Ltd fleet now based in Australia and New Zealand between October and April, this season will see the company introduce two new ships, spend $11.25 million refreshing another, as well as offer a whole host of new and unique itineraries on a range of cruise ships to suit every taste.
“This is undoubtedly our biggest and most exciting season to date. And nothing will be bigger than the debut of Royal Caribbean’s all-new Ovation of the Seas. She represents not only a whole new way to cruise, but a new holiday category entirely – what we’ve dubbed supercruising. This is truly going to blow Australia away!”
Ovation of the Seas cost USD$1 billion to build, weighing in at 168,666 GRT with capacity for close to 5000 passengers, making her by far the largest, the newest and the most technologically advanced cruise ship to ever call Australia home.
She’ll depart Singapore on 30 November and reach the Australian coast for the very first time in Fremantle on 6 December, before calling in Adelaide, Hobart and Sydney. Once she arrives at her new southern hemisphere home port of Sydney on 15 December, she’ll offer seven roundtrip itineraries to New Zealand, the South Pacific and Australian destinations, plus a repositioning cruise to Singapore departing in February 2017.
Ovation of the Seas joins the South Pacific Sisters – twin sisters Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas – along with Radiance of the Seas sailing out of Sydney. Together, the biggest ships in the Southern Hemisphere will offer 65 voyages around Australia, the South Pacific, New Zealand and Asia.
Twin sister megaliners, Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas will be dedicated to the South Pacific this coming season, offering twice the fun thanks to recent US$180 million revitalisations. Until Ovation of the Seas arrives, Explorer of the Seas boasts the title of largest ship in Australia and both the South Pacific Sisters are packed full of fun for families of all shapes and sizes. They boast an array of features that can only be found on Royal, like the twin FlowRiders, ice skating rinks where the young and young at heart can test their skills and virtual balconies for real time ocean views in interior staterooms. As well as calling to idyllic destinations like Vanuatu and New Caledonia, the South Pacific Sisters will make almost double the calls of any other cruise brand to island favourite, Fiji.
Nicknamed the “culinary ship” for her rich variety of onboard dining options, Radiance of the Seas is set to make waves this season. She’ll make the industry’s first ever passenger cruise ship visit to Wollongong on the South Coast of NSW on 30 October 2016, plus she will make maiden calls for the cruise line to the idyllic islands of Tonga; Vava’u on 12 December 2016 and Nuku’alofa on 13 December 2016.
Legend of the Seas returns to her Brisbane homeport for her second and final season down under in November. Only two sea days from the South Pacific, she’ll primarily offer voyages to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji, before bidding farewell to Australian waters in February 2017.
After kicking off the 2016/17 cruise season this weekend, Celebrity Solstice, will make her way to Singapore for an extensive $11.25 million revitalisation. Sailing her fifth consecutive local season, the modern luxury ship will return in November with stunning new features including “A Taste of Film” cinema experience under the stars, new Lawn Club cabanas, an authentic Japanese sushi restaurant and an all-new digital photo gallery.
Celebrity Solstice will offer a range of new ports and itineraries during her seven month season, including her maiden debut to the tranquil coastal NZ town of Picton on 10 April 2017, as well as a record three overnight calls to the picturesque harbour town of Tauranga in New Zealand. She will also introduce a new Great Barrier Reef itinerary for the first time, departing Sydney 13 March 2017.
Rounding out the season will be the maiden arrival of boutique cruise brand Azamara Club Cruises’ second ship, Azamara Journey, which will her debut in February 2017, first arriving to Darwin on 8 February 2017 as part of her Asia repositioning and then to Sydney on 20 February 2017. She’ll make the cruise company’s maiden call to Kaikoura, New Zealand’s whale watching capital, on 13 March 2017, and will remain in the region until late March, offering two Australia & New Zealand sailings and a return Asia repositioning voyage.
Fresh from an all-encompassing make over which left no space untouched, Azamara Journey’s recent revitalisation saw the addition of new venues and technologies, a beautiful redesign and rework of her suites and staterooms, a complete refresh of all public spaces and pervasive wi-fi throughout.